Ferocactus cylindraceus

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Ferocactus cylindraceus
Ferocactus cylindraceus 1.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Core eudicots
Order: Caryophyllales
Family: Cactaceae
Genus: Ferocactus
Species: F. cylindraceus
Binomial name
Ferocactus cylindraceus
(Engelm.) Orcutt

Echinocactus viridescens var. cylindraceus Engelm.
Echinocactus cylindraceus (Engelm.) Engelm.
Echinocactus acanthodes Lem. (rejected name)

Ferocactus cylindraceus is a species of barrel cactus which is known by several common names, including California barrel cactus, Desert barrel cactus, and miner's compass. It was first described by George Engelmann in 1853.[1]


This cactus is native to the eastern Mojave Desert and western Sonoran Desert Ecoregions in: Southern California, Nevada, Arizona, and Utah in the Southwestern United States; and Baja California, and Sonora state in Northwestern Mexico.[2][3]

It is found in gravelly, rocky, or sandy soils, in Creosote Bush Scrub and Joshua Tree Woodland habitats, from 60–1,500 metres (200–4,920 ft) in elevation.[4]


Ferocactus cylindraceus is usually cylindrical or spherical, with some older specimens forming columns 2 metres (6.6 ft) in height. It is covered in long, plentiful spines, which are straight and red when new and become curved and gray as they age.[5]

The cactus bears flowers that are maroon outside, and bright yellow inside, with red or yellow centers on the side that faces the sun. The fleshy, hollow fruits are yellow.


  • Ferocactus cylindraceus var. cylindraceus — California barrel cactus.[6]
  • Ferocactus cylindraceus var. lecontei — Leconte's barrel cactus.[7][8]
Hillside with many Ferocactus cylindraceus, in Joshua Tree National Park.


Having a sculptural form and picturesque qualities, this already uncommon cactus is threatened by plant collectors.[4] It is also losing habitat to clearing for new wind farms and solar power plants in the Mojave Desert and Colorado Desert.

Protected areas with notable populations include



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